Going to Law to Get Treatment
BMJ (British Medical Journal). 1987 Dec 12; 295(6612): 1554.
Judicial review as a remedy for National Health Service patients in Britain who suffer delays in, or even denial of, treatment is explored. Two cases are described where publicity combined with the threat of legal action and pressure from members of Parliament rather than a court ruling resulted in patients receiving the treatment they sought, even though the Court of Appeal turned down one patient's application on the day he had his operation. The court may review NHS decisions, but jurisdiction will be exercised sparingly, and only if the Secretary of State's discretion has been exercised "unreasonably" according to the "Wednesbury principle." This principle holds that "a person entrusted with a discretion must...call his own attention to the matters he is bound to consider [and] exclude from his consideration matters which are irrelevant." (KIE abstract)